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20 July 2008

Instructor Dives Headfirst Into Shark Pool at World Series of Poker

Sometimes taking the plunge is the only way to win, as diving instructor Martyn Sands discovered after his success at the prestigious World Series of Poker 2008 less than three months after his first online poker game.

It's not every day that a diving instructor can look a real-life shark in the eye and lives to tell the story. Nor is it likely that a beginner wins seats to the world's most prestigious live poker tournament less than a month after his very first online hand. But that's exactly what diving instructor and poker new-comer Martyn Sands did this July when he played at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2008 in Las Vegas.

His first brush with online poker in March 2008 was all it took. The British-born instructor was off and diving headfirst into the challenge. Eager to better his game, the Greek resident played up to four hours a day, five times a week, with no lose or win limit in sight. Natural talent and sheer determination paid off sooner than expected. Just weeks after joining, Martyn shot to number one at the WSOP 2008 Super Satellite and found himself en route to his first live tournament in Las Vegas.

The underwater diving instructor took to the WSOP Main Event tables in Las Vegas like a fish to water. Up against an international line-up of table veterans and well-renowned poker sharks, he remained unshaken as he put his three-month-old poker skills to the test and came out a winner. Out of the 6,844 hopefuls who attended the series, he finished 577th place at the Main Event, and added $23,160 prize winnings to his bank account.

Keeping calm and showing no fear is the first step to winning, according to the well-seasoned diver. Attributing his success to "75% skill and 25% luck", he also highlighted the important psychological aspects of the game. Cultivating an ability to read other players' tells is vital, as is developing an impassable 'poker face' to disarm opponents. For online tournaments, "speed and the amount of the beat are good indicators of players’ tell" advises the WSOP prize winner. But ultimately, the only way to learn is to jump right in and play.

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